Author: Laura Bickle
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Ages: 12 up, Young Adult, 2013
Katie is unsure what happened to her parents and sister after she was banned from the Amish community. She only knows that after her indiscretion with Alex, a non-Amish man she had fallen deeply in love with, she could never return. Like all Amish teens, Katie had fantasized about seeing “the outside” world, an opportunity she would have been granted in time, but times were different now. A terrible plague had been unleashed into the world that turned people into vampires, including, she is certain, some members of her beloved community. The only safe thing to do is to leave the area.
With a heavy heart, Katie sets off on a journey with Alex to find his family in the north, along with Ginger, an older non-Amish woman searching for her family, and a skittish horse named Horus. Travel is only safe during the day. At night they must find shelter quickly or face attack by roving vampires. Attacks are inevitable and the three become able-bodied vampire killers. Sadly, Ginger is eventually bitten and killed.
Desperate for answers, Alex seeks a scientific solution, Katie a spiritual one. Katie knows that the holy Himmelsbrief, the letter she faithfully wears on her chest, has protected them more than once from vampire attacks, as has locating and standing on holy ground or a religious site. But when the letter is lost, their options begin to dwindle.
Hope surfaces when they meet a man who has discovered a serum that makes the body luminescent at night. Miraculously, vampires are warded off by the bright glow. Armed with the serum they set off to share the remedy with any survivors they can find. Katie heads for home, Alex continues north to find his family. They part ways, unsure if they will ever see each other again, but love triumphs in the end.
The Outside is a wonderful tale read alone, a real page-turner, but for back story readers may want to read the prequel, The Hallowed Ones. Personally, I longed for more oomph in the final testing of Alex's and Katie's commitment to each other. The seeds of drama were certainly there, but it felt cut off. Perhaps word count was an issue. It's just that I wanted to hang out with these characters a bit longer. Perhaps there is a sequel.
Copyright 2015 © Sharon M. Himsl